The Pinnacle of Christianity
The pinnacle (highpoint, zenith, apex, ultimate aspect) of Christianity is a Person — Jesus the Christ [Gk. Christos - Anointed One, Messiah], the
(1) One through whom this creation was born and sustained,
All things were made through Him [Jesus the Christ], and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3)
For by Him [Jesus the Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16, 17)
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son [Jesus the Christ], whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds [Gk. aion - ages]; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power . . . . (Hebrews 1:1-3a)
(2) One through whom this creation (animate and inanimate) can only be saved.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus the Christ], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16, 17)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
Scripture reveals that Jesus the Christ [“Jesus” was to be His name; “Christ” was to be His title — henceforth they will be combined as “Jesus Christ”] is the “Word of God,” the express image (manifestation in flesh) of the Living God. Indeed, as the third Person of the Holy Trinity, He is God.
(Admittedly, the concept of the doctrine designated as “Trinity” [a word not found in Scripture just as are many words that describe definite Bible truths are not found in Holy Writ, e.g., rapture, omnipresent, omniscient, substitutionary, eschatology, incarnation] is beyond human comprehension, just as is the concept of eternity. Yet, a comprehensive investigation of Holy Scripture reveals that it is most assuredly true.
The doctrine of the Trinity may therefore be understood as the divine essence [nature] of God who reveals Himself in three distinct Persons — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who are separate, yet are one, i.e., one God who manifests Himself in three distinct personalities. An expanded discussion of the Trinity is at the following: http://bibleone.net/print_tbs10.html)
The ensuing passages illustrate that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, was and is the express image of the Living God; indeed, He was and is the Living God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)
He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4)
Who [Jesus Christ] being the brightness of His [God the Father] glory and the express image of His person . . . . (Hebrews 1:3)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)
I and My Father are One. (John 10:30)
But if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. (John 10:38)
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:9-11)
Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. (John 17:11)
That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:21-23)
. . . . Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 5:9b)
For in Him [Jesus Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)
Who [Jesus Christ], being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. (Philippians 2:6)
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are One. (1 John 5:7)
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
The Bible, the 66 divine books written by 40 different inspired human beings and which compose what man has labeled the Old Testament and New Testament, is a unified manuscript focused on one Person and one message, expressed in delineation and types throughout. That Person is Jesus the Christ and that message is the restoration of a ruined creation.
Arlen L. Chitwood, in his book, The Study of Scripture [http://bibleone.net/SS.htm], offers the following cogent account of God’s Word:
When studying the Scriptures — whether the Old Testament or the New Testament — one is studying about Jesus the Christ, whom God has “appointed Heir of all things” (Luke 24:25-27; Hebrews 1:2). There is nothing in the New Testament that is not seen after some fashion in the Old. The New Testament is simply a revealing, an unveiling, of God’s Son, as previously introduced in the Old Testament Scriptures.
“Jesus” is the Word made “flesh,” referring, in an inseparable sense, to both the Old Testament Scriptures and to God becoming “flesh” in the person of His Son. “Jesus” is not only God manifested in the flesh but the Old Testament Scriptures manifested in the flesh as well.
There is “the written Word,” inseparably identified with “God,” and there is this same Word manifested in the form of “flesh,” with life and inseparability seen throughout. . . .
Thus, “studying Scripture,” one is simply studying about God’s Son. And note that the Word became “flesh” after the whole of the Old Testament had been penned but before a single word of the New Testament had been penned. In that respect, one would have to conclude that there is nothing in the New that is not seen after some fashion in the Old, else God’s Son — the Word becoming “flesh” — would have been incomplete at the time of His incarnation.
Then, in John 1:14, the Word becoming “flesh” is seen in connection with two things:
1) Christ’s Glory.
2) Christ’s Sonship, God’s Firstborn (“sonship” implies rulership, and it is firstborn sons who rule in the human realm).
All of this can only take one back to the beginning of God’s revelation of His Son, back to the opening verses of Genesis. That which God desires man to know about His plans and purposes, which He will bring to pass through His Son, begins at this point.
And everything from this point forward is regal. Everything has to do with God’s Son, God’s Firstborn, who has been “appointed Heir of all things.” And everything moves toward that day when God’s Son will come forth in all His Glory and realize this inheritance.
The Old Testament opens this way, providing the complete story in the opening book. And the New Testament opens exactly the same way, providing commentary on the manner in which the Old Testament opens, providing the complete story, after another fashion, in one book as well.
Scripture begins in Genesis with, “In the beginning . . . [lit., ‘In beginning…’],”and the New Testament begins exactly the same way, though a problem exists because of the manner in which man has arranged the four gospels beginning the New Testament.
The gospel of John is the only gospel that begins the same way Genesis begins, “In the beginning . . . [lit., ‘In beginning…’], along with the fact that both Genesis and John parallel one another completely, from beginning to end. . . .
In Genesis, the restoration is that of the material creation, foreshadowing the restoration of man even before his creation and fall.
In John, the restoration is that of ruined man, foreshadowed in the Genesis account.
In both, the purpose is the same — placing restored man (redeemed man) on a restored earth (a redeemed earth), in a regal position, on the seventh day.
And this septenary, foundational overview, seen in the opening two chapters of each book, relates the complete story of Scripture. Each of the six days of God’s restorative work, foreshadowed in either account (Genesis or John), has to do with days of 1,000 years each (cf. 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8). That is to say, God is presently working six days, 6,000 years, to bring about the restoration of both man and the material creation. Then, at the conclusion of His work, man will be in a position to realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning. Man will be in a position to rule a restored earth with the second Man, the last Adam, during the seventh day, during the seventh 1,000-year day. . . .
All of Scripture is about Jesus the Christ. And all of Scripture moves toward a seventh day, a seventh 1,000-year period, when God’s firstborn Son, God’s Christ, will come into possession of His inheritance, and, with Israel [presently God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, 23)] and the Church [to be revealed as God’s firstborn son in that coming day, following the adoption (Romans 8:14-23; Hebrews 12:22, 23)] will realize that which is seen in the opening chapter of Genesis at the time of man’s creation — “. . . let them have dominion [Hebrew: radah, ‘rule’; ‘. . . let them rule’]” (Genesis 1:26, 28).
It is apparent in this present “secular age,” one in which the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) has become increasingly successful in turning man away from the Living God as he “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), that mankind as a whole has drifted far from the central Person and purpose of God’s revelation to man. Indeed, even those who consider themselves Christian find it difficult to speak of Jesus Christ, seeking rather to use the term “God” when referring to the Divinity. And in so doing, they only unite with and support the myriad of religions that utilize the same “generic” term.
The truth is that Christianity is not a “religion.” It is a union or relationship with a Person, Jesus Christ and the pinnacle of all Scripture is the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.
How to Truly Know the Living God
With the preceding in mind, how may one who has been “born from above” (John 3:3) by a decision of faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 20:31; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8, 9) and thereby placed into the “family” of God (Ephesians 3:15), the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27), truly come to know the Living God? Doesn’t Scripture declare God is Spirit (John 4:24) and that no man has seen Him (John 6:46)? The answer is “yes.”
Yet, Jesus Christ has declared that to have known Him is to have known and seen God the Father.
If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. (John 14:7; cf. 14:9; 15:24)
This being true, the way a Christian can and may both know and see the Living God is to become intimately acquainted with the Son of God, a process that follows the “birth from above.” And since the written “Word of God” (Scripture) is a unique and personal reflection of the living “Word of God” (Jesus Christ), it naturally follows that as a Christian studies and absorbs Scripture under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-15), he or she will increasingly both know and see the Living God (God the Father).
And that is why Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of the Christian faith. For by Him all has been created. By Him all consists (is able to continue). Only by Him may anyone come back into a position of both knowing and seeing the Living God, to be reunited with Him throughout eternity.
The following is taken from a previous composition entitled “God’s Remedy for Spiritual Immaturity,” which may be accessed at http://bibleone.net/Gods-remedy.htm. Although it is a thesis on proper “spiritual growth,” the maturing of a Christian is the equivalent of coming into a proper knowledge and understanding of the living “Word of God” and thereby coming to a proper knowledge and vision of the Living God.
The question is: What is God’s remedy for spiritual immaturity? And to this writer the answer is summed up in the following passage of Scripture:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith [lit. the faith], who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1, 2)
The key to spiritual growth (maturity) is encompassed in the words, “looking to Jesus, the Author (lit. Originator) and Finisher (lit. Perfecter) of our faith.” For it is only as we look to Christ are we able to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us,” permitting us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The apostle Paul says it in similar fashion:
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:14)
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)
As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. (Colossians 2:6)
Quite clearly, Christianity is all about Christ. He was the instrumental Person of the Trinity who created man, the very objects to which Christianity encompasses (Genesis 1:2b; Psalm 33:16; John 1:1-3, 10, 14; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). Christ was the One in whom God the Father expressed and continues to express His pleasure (Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 2 Peter 1:17). Christ alone became sin for us that we may become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Holy Spirit never focuses His attention upon Himself; the Holy Spirit will only testify of and glorify Christ (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13, 14). And it is Christ alone by whom Christians will be judged; and, upon passing this judgment will rule and reign with Christ as His Bride and consort queen during the coming Messianic Era (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:4-6).
Yet there are extensive and pervasive efforts throughout Christendom, particularly in so-called evangelical circles, that would have the believer in Christ look elsewhere for spiritual growth, to the Holy Spirit, to emotional gyrations, to the local church, to self-effort in the adoption of a system of taboos (do’s and don’ts), which is nothing more than legalism, all of which eventually leads to a state of pride and a certain “falling away” from true spiritual growth. Indeed, while it is popular for Christians (and non-Christians) to proclaim the name of God in realms of religion, secularism, and politics, the name of Jesus Christ is often taboo, to be avoided as one would a plague.
Yet, in all matters of this life, it is Jesus Christ alone to whom the child of God must look if spiritual growth to maturity is to be achieved. A Christian should avoid following a litany of rules prescribed by a religious organization or seeking what many incorrectly believe to be a “second act of grace,” i.e. the baptism of the Holy Spirit (in accordance with Scripture, this takes place at a person’s “birth from above,” when the Spirit baptizes [immerses] the believer into the Body of Christ in addition to indwelling and sealing the believer, a one-time transaction never to be repeated or reversed [John 7:39; 14:16, 17; Romans 5:5; 8:9, 15; 1 Corinthians 1:22; 3:16; 6:19; 12:13; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 3:28; 4:6; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 2:21, 22; 4:30; 1 John 3:24]). Instead, he is instructed to look to and walk in Christ until Christ is formed within him.
So how does the Christian look to Christ? There is only one way. Since there is a unique and definite link between Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and the written (God-breathed) Word of God (the One reflecting the Other), the Christian is to immerse himself in the “implanted Word,” which will transform him progressively to spiritual maturity and the eventual salvation of his soul. In fact, a comparison between the companion passages of Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16 confirms that a Christian is “filled [controlled] with the Spirit” when “the Word of Christ dwells in him richly.”
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (lit. God-breathed), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete [mature], thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
The following (indented) exegetical discussion of Romans 12:2, taken from the book, Salvation of the Soul (pages 59-61), by Arlen L. Chitwood, is particularly noteworthy to the topic of this study:
Following the command in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this age,” the Christian is commanded to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Greek word translated “transformed” is metamorphoo. This is the word from which the English word “metamorphosis” is derived. This word refers to an inward change brought about completely apart from the power of the individual himself. The individual Christian is powerless to bring about this metamorphosis.
In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Satan is said to be “transformed into an angel of light” and his ministers “transformed as the ministers of righteousness.” In the Greek text the word “transformed” is not the same in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 as it is in Romans 12:2. The word used in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 is metaschematizo, referring to an outward change; and, textually (v. 13), this change is brought about through an individual’s own power.
Satan, thus, seeks to counterfeit the work of the Spirit by substituting an outward change in place of the inward change. And the nature and source of this pseudo change often go unrecognized.
Christians who seek to bring about the change of Romans 12:2 themselves will always effect a metaschema (outward change) rather than a metamorphosis (inward change). At the time of the birth from above the Spirit of God began a work in the Christian that He will continue “until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). No effort on the part of Christians can help the Spirit of God effect this change.
Man’s way finds man actively involved, seeking spirituality through either quitting certain things or doing certain things, subsequently producing a metaschema. But God’s way finds man passive, and God performs a work in the individual, ultimately producing the metamorphosis.
The endless list of “do’s” and “do not’s,” taboos formed by Christian groups, invariably have to do with a metaschema, not a metamorphosis. Any effort on the part of Christians to help the Spirit of God bring about the transformation of Romans 12:2 will always result in pseudo-spirituality. God’s way is an inward change accomplished by the power of the Spirit, not an outward change accomplished by the power of the individual.
Note according to the text how this inward change, the metamorphosis, takes place: “. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word “renewing” is a translation of the Greek word anakainosis; and the action of the preceding verb (“transformed”) directs attention to a continuous renewing process, one which is to keep on taking place. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 we are told that “the inward man is renewed [lit. ‘is being renewed’] day by day.” This renewing process is to keep on taking place day in and day out for the entire duration of the pilgrim walk here on earth.
Then, Colossians 3:10 reveals how the renewing of the mind is accomplished:
And have put on the new man, which is renewed [lit. ‘is being renewed’] in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him.
Note the word “knowledge” in this verse. The regular Greek word for “knowledge” is gnosis, but the word used in Colossians 3:10 is epignosis. This is the word gnosis (knowledge) with the prefix epi (upon). Epignosis, thus, means “knowledge upon knowledge,” i.e., “a mature knowledge.” The word translated “renewed” is a past participle of anakainoo (the same word used in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:16) and could be better translated, “being renewed.” The only way a Christian can acquire this mature knowledge, which allows the Spirit of God to work the metamorphosis in his life, is through receiving the living Word of God into his saved human spirit.
Christians must allow God to continue “breathing in” life. The living, God-breathed Word must be allowed to flow into man’s saved human spirit or there can be no metamorphosis. The renewing of the inward man “day by day,” through receiving “the implanted Word,” producing the metamorphosis in one’s life, is the manner in which the salvation of the soul is presently being accomplished.
As previously seen, receiving “the implanted Word” in James 1:21 and 1 Peter 2:2 are preceded by “laying aside” everything opposed to purity. It is the same with the metamorphosis in Romans 12:2. The words, “do not be conformed to this age [lit. ‘stop being conformed to this age’],” appear prior to the words, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Those “in Christ” are commanded to remove themselves from that which lies “in the evil one” prior to receiving “the implanted Word,” which will effect the metamorphosis in their lives.
Thus, Romans 12:2; James 1:21; and 1 Peter 2:2 all teach the same thing relative to laying aside everything opposed to purity prior to receiving “the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
As is evident, the entire point of this study is to direct Christians to the Person of Christ alone in regards to their quest to achieve spiritual maturity. It is only as we look to Christ, in the same fashion (by faith) that we became united to Him, that we are able to “walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6) down the road of spiritual growth. And the only way we are able to look to Him is through immersion into the living (God-breathed) written Word.
Achieving spiritual maturity is the responsibility and duty of every Christian; and, the only remedy for spiritual immaturity is to look to Christ in all matters during our temporal life. When you ask what Christ would do in any situation, you may always know what He would do, if you have studied the Word, “the mind of Christ,” and thereby have grown to a deeper friendship with the One who paid your sin-penalty on the Cross of Calvary.
For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Let us all follow Paul’s example:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Philippians 3:13-15)
(For a more comprehensive treatment of this subject, please see “The Absolute Importance of God’s Word, Parts 1 & 2” at http://bibleone.net/theimplantedword.htm and http://bibleone.net/TheBreathofGod.htm )